Marc Swan is a retired vocational rehabilitation counselor. His poems have recently been published or forthcoming in Mohave River Review, The Nashwaak Review, Nerve Cowboy, The Chaffin Journal, among others. He lives with his wife Dd in Portland Maine.
He places my glasses on the small table holding his tools,
wraps the tissue paper firmly around my neck,
shakes the dark red cape, lays it over my shoulders
and around my arms tucked under, but not too much
then takes the clipper with a number two comb,
carefully works the right side
then left side, short easy thrusts
smoothing the previous uneven cut
then around the edges with just the clipper.
“Not too much off the top,” I say.
He nods and with a thick comb and scissors
works from back to front, occasionally spritzing
or blow drying the longer strands.
We have not talked. He is Middle Eastern, maybe
Syrian, Iraqi, but I don’t ask.
He works intently completing the top
then moving to beard and mustache,
carefully trimming with just the clipper.
The steady buzz is comforting. When I came in
I wasn’t sure—a new town, a new barber.
He finishes with talc and a soft brush he flips
over my cheeks, under my eyes, on my neck.
The finale is the loosening of the gown, removal
of the tissue, a final buzz around my ears
with a different shaver, smaller, perhaps easier in the hand.
The Royal Barbershop, 397 King St, Fredericton, NB, Canada